North East India tour, Meghalaya & beyond
Description of North East India tour, Meghalaya & beyond
Go beyond the normal routes of tourists in India and experience the stunning beauty of remote north east India. Staying mainly in homestay accommodation, this adventure takes in the incredible living root bridges of Meghalaya and the national park at Kaziranga. You’ll experience both the nature and culture of this less traversed area of India.
Your journey will take you from the metropolis of Delhi where you spend your first night, to Guwathati in Assam by air, and onward by road to Meghalaya where the air is fresh and cool here, in an area that stretches to the plains of Bangladesh. You will spend the next two nights on the shores of Umiam lake where you can recuperate from the journey so far.
We do advise a local guide to get the best out of this adventure although we know that some people prefer to do explore on their own. If you would like us to arrange this for you from day 2 – 8 we will be more than happy to do so. Once at Cherrapunjee you have 3 nights to explore the area. Named by locals as the wettest place on earth, it is from here you will travel to see the living root bridges. These bridges are the work of the local Khasi people. They are built out of a practise perfected to intertwine the roots, some up to 100ft long, to form these bridges which can hold several people at once. The locals use them daily and they can last for hundreds of years. Your host at the homestay here, Rosie, will happily share both her experiences of living in the region and the culinary aspects of the region during a cookery class.
Once back in Assam there’s 2 days to enjoy and explore the Kaziranga National Park. Two thirds of the worlds population of one horned rhino lives here and they are by far the star attraction! Of course, there are other amazing sites in the park, and you will not be disappointed by the flora and fauna you will see. There are tigers but they are a little camera shy…. you will be lucky to see one!
This adventure uses homestay and luxury hotels, so you get to experience a full range of emotions and feelings while here.
|Day 1:||ARRIVE IN DELHI: On arrival in Delhi, you will be met and transferred to the Radisson Blu Plaza for your first night’s stay in India.|
|Day 2:||MEGHALAYA AND UMIAM LAKE: After breakfast we take you back to the airport for your 3-hour flight to Guwahati, where you will be met by your private car and driver and taken to the little-known state of Meghalaya and your hotel, Ri Kynjai, set beside Umiam Lake. Breakfast, lunch and dinner|
|Day 3:||UMIAM LAKE: Your days is yours to do with as you wish today. Ri Kynjai, whose name means 'Serenity by the Lake', is a perfect place to relax and admire the photogenic scenery. Whatever you decide to do during the day, this evening you can unwind by the bonfire, chatting to other guests at Ri Kynjai. Breakfast, lunch and dinner|
|Day 4:||DRIVE TO CHERRAPUNJEE: After breakfast start your journey once more with a drive to Cherrapunjee, which takes you through the East Khasi Hills. Home for the next 3 nights, Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort is set in hills about 45 minutes’ drive out of Cherrapunjee itself. Breakfast, lunch and dinner|
|Day 5:||CHERRAPUNJEE: Unique to this area are the living root bridges, created over the years by the local Khasi people. By weaving and training the thick roots of the ficus tree, they formed bridges to take themselves over rivers and streams. Although you can view these easily from your hotel, today you will trek with a private guide to see some of the more spectacular bridges. Breakfast, lunch and dinner|
|Day 6:||CHERRAPUNJEE: They take about 15 years before you can use them and last for over 300 years, and today, it’s time to take a look at some of the other bridge structures, maybe even a double decker bridge, in the company of your guide! Breakfast, lunch and dinner|
|Day 7:||SHILLONG AND HOMESTAY: Today you drive about 2 hours to Shillong, a hill station and the capital of Meghalaya. If time allows there’s a possibility of being able to visit Bara Bazar, one of the oldest markets in North East India. Afterwards, you will carry one your journey for another two hours or so to Rosie's Homestay. Here you will receive a warm welcome from Rosie, and she'll be happy to chat to you and teach you how to cook a local dish if you're interested. She's an excellent cook. Breakfast, lunch and dinner|
|Day 8:||DRIVE TO KAZIRANGA: After breakfast at Rosie's, you have a lengthy drive to Kaziranga National Park. It takes around six hours with opportunities to stop along the way and stretch your legs. You will stay at Diphlu River Lodge, overlooking the river, which lends it an air of tranquillity. Relax on the veranda as you sip a drink from the bar, take in the views and look forward to the next few days here. Breakfast, lunch and dinner|
|Day 9-10:||KAZIRANGA NATIONAL PARK: While staying at Diphlu River Lodge, you have the next two days to explore Kaziranga. Your stay includes two open jeep drives a day led by the lodge's own naturalist guide. The guide aims to tailor your visits to your interests, taking in as much as the park as possible in the time you have. Kaziranga is known for its one-horned rhinos and is home to about two thirds of the world's population so there are excellent chances to spot these during your safaris. It has the highest density of tigers of any protected area on the planet, though these can prove elusive so a sighting should be considered a bonus. Elephant, water buffalo, deer, gibbon, wild boar can be seen. If you fancy dropping one of the game drives, you could take a boat trip on the Brahmaputra River to search for Gangetic dolphins. Breakfast, lunch and dinner|
|Day 11:||DRIVE TO GUWAHATI AIRPORT: After breakfast there is a drive of about 5 hours back to Guwahati airport for your flight to Delhi, where this holiday ends. Breakfast|
PlanetThe company that organises this holiday is a multi-award-winning responsible travel company. They try to ensure that nothing they do at home (in UK) or abroad compromises the environment or wildlife or exploits people. They believe in ensuring that travellers are well-informed, as an informed traveller tend to be a more respectful and sensitive traveller. They also believe in giving back to the country, people wildlife and environments which are affected by tourism.
One of the first stays on this adventure is with a local Khasi family. Not only do they promote their way of life they educate in the local traditions and customs, through walks, and cookery classes. The daughter of the family runs an eco-bamboo company making utensils, cups, bowls etc. But as well as making them, she looks at how to replant and sustain the environment around the business.
The local Khasi business owners that are partners in this trip are very keen to treat nature with reverence, after all, in a remote area such as this suitability is a by word. They use home grown produce or that from the local villagers, while lodges and hotels are built with and use to furnish, locally sourced material.
The Kaziranga National Park is now over 100 years old and was formed to ensure the local animals was conserved. It is home to over 2200 one-horned rhinos, 2/3 of the world’s population. This is a UNESCO world heritage site with a special rhino protection force. Poaching has not been eradicated as yet, however; the numbers involved have been declining. Very much a case of poachers beware! The tiger, elephant wild water buffalo and swamp deer have also increased in numbers thanks to the efforts of the park.
For every person that travels with the company, it plants trees through The Travel Forest initiative. Depending on where they plant and the requirement of the specific area, they plant either indigenous trees or a mix of indigenous and non-native species. Planting non-native seedlings may seem counter-intuitive but doing this can often help any remaining indigenous forest from being cut down (e.g. for fuel) as some non-native trees grow much more quickly than indigenous types. They particularly aim to save ancient or older indigenous forest, through offering an alternative option for fuel requirements of local communities. In addition to this benefit, their Travel Forest initiative helps with such things as planting for water-course retention, soil erosion, shade and even food – all depending on what is planted and where. They have planted almost 100,000 trees to date in various degraded locations including the Andean mountains in Peru, northern Tanzania and Malawi. This has always been done in conjunction with the local communities who plant and then tend the seedlings. Trees are far more important to the health of this planet (and us) than many people imagine. This global Travel Forest initiative can and does make a big difference.
The UK head office has a good policy of recycling, reducing and re-using (electricity, paper, plastic etc). They also buy only fair-trade goods such as tea, coffee, and use biodegradable detergents etc. They also make a point of buying only top eco-rated equipment (e.g. monitors).
As part of our commitment to the environment we have a programme to plant trees in Tanzania, Malawi, Peru etc. through the company’s foundation. This was set up to help alleviate poverty, conserve endangered wildlife, and protect earth’s environmental diversity for the benefit of us all. All the projects have a link with tourism in some way, and many benefit the wider world as well as local people, through conserving areas of natural beauty. We don’t just look overseas when considering the environment, even at the office the team planted tress in the fields surrounding the buildings to celebrate the company’s 21st birthday in 2019.
As a company we think about our partners overseas carefully. The company ethos is to use properties around the globe that have a similar ethical stance to ourselves. If they can use local suppliers for their provisions, be it food or furnishings then they do, and all offer a variety of menus including vegetarian and vegan/plant-based options. Our partners support the use of solar/renewable energies, and many are looking at ways of switching their current supplies to more eco-friendly options in order to be more efficient. The use of solar, water and air are options in use or being explored, as well as grey water run offs. Energy efficient appliances and practices, card operated in room lighting, low energy bulbs, and a change in laundry practices, are all in operation, and show just a few of the initiatives used. Our partners also use local staff within their properties. Many live on-site in seasonal properties for example reducing the travel emissions of the company, many come from the local villages and communities surrounding the properties. This includes everyone from house keeping to management and the guides that are from the locale.
Due to the nature of the holidays provided by the company, it is impossible to eliminate all flights but where possible we use the minimum flight hours an itinerary can operate with. The packages we have on offer include rail portions in some areas, which keep emissions low, many walking options and shared transportation.
PeopleThe properties we use in this itinerary are owned and operated by local families who believe in using locally sourced if not home grown produce, they employ villages at their properties and believe that they are the keepers, the guardians of the environment that gives then so much in return.
At the eco-bamboo company in Shillong the workers come from the village and produce ethically made products for sale.
At another of the properties the entire workforce is made up from local Khasi women, giving the community employment. When the resort was built, it was to provide much needed employment in the area, the native home of the owner, as the town was becoming neglected as many residents were migrating to the cities looking for work.
In terms of information, all travellers are given guidelines on Travelling with Respect, which includes advice on cultural aspects of your travels as well as protecting the environment. For any community-owned or run project, they also have a Community Tourism Information sheet for travellers to help explain how to get the best from the experience, and what to expect (good and bad). For trekkers, the company have a Porter Policy in place, a copy of which is given to clients. They are also have a Responsible Wildlife Viewing guide too. For anything more specific, e.g. rules about visiting gorillas, this information is also given to clients. In addition, they offer more information about the native people and cultures in a destination country, which all adds to a traveller being more aware.
The company works with partners on the ground in each destination, and only uses local guides. They also primarily promote locally owned services (hotels etc). They have eco-rated about 300 properties worldwide which they work with closely, so they are very clear which accommodations have good environmental and social responsibility credentials. This information is used to ensure that any traveller wanting to ensure they are really making a difference, can choose between one property and another on eco-issues.
They also promote community-owned projects and services where applicable and possible. Indeed, they were instrumental in setting up two community-owned ventures in Tanzania and Peru.
The company backs a charity with funds and administration. This is a registered UK charity whose principle aim is to relieve the poverty of indigenous communities in areas outside of the UK which are affected by tourism. The charity backs poverty alleviation, education, cultural preservation and conservation projects within these regions. It has backed schools, clinics, micro-business projects and more. It is a charity we encourage our travellers to donate to if they would like to give something back.